Kassim Ouma: "You're Underestimating Me"

21.11.06 - By Scoop Malinowski: We have a running gag, me and Kassim Ouma, boxing reporter and boxing champion. Just about every time I see him now, he always prefers to ask me the questions, before me asking him questions. It's all in fun, because that's the kind of fun guy Kassim Ouma is. So that's the way we do it.

Actually, now that I think of it, the first time I ever encountered Kassim in person - in Indianapolis at the Forrest-Mosley rematch - he asked me the first question then too.

We crossed paths under the stands during the Antonio Tarver- Eric Harding rematch, it was just us two. And I said something like, Hey, You're Kassim Ouma, I saw you fight, you're a damn good fighter. Kassim was smiling, he's always perpetually smiling - that's the kind of guy he is - universally respected and admired by literally every one in the entire sport - and he quickly probed me, Do you think I could beat Oscar De La Hoya?

In a nice way, with that engaging smile, he challenged me on the spot. So I gave him as honest an answer as I could. Yeah, I believed Ouma was actually something special. "Yeah," I said, "I think you might be able to beat Oscar, but I don't know if you can right now. Maybe in a year or two."

I remember Kassim's reaction at my fence-sitting and always will. The man was so confident in himself he had like a kind of friendly sympathy for my bland predictive powers, like, Oh well, the truth hadn't dawned on this poor fool yet.

Fast forward to the David Tua comeback fight against Maurice Wheeler three weeks ago in New York. Ouma was in the house, enjoying the night of boxing on a break from training in Philadelphia (he later entered the ring with Tua. Kassim always loves to visit and hang out with fighters in their dressing rooms before fights, I remember he was with Hasim Rahman before the Toney match.)

When we saw each other at the Tua fight, Kassim once again turned the tables on me and became the investigative reporter.

"How come everybody is underestimating Kassim Ouma? An experienced fighter that's been around here and do what he need to do, all the way up from ESPN to fighting hard for the world title? Now he's fighting the American fighter that's good, one of the best fighters in the world, where Kassim Ouma is one of the best fighters in the world, how come they're underestimating Kassim Ouma? Okay, Jermain Taylor's gonna beat Kassim Ouma, 10-1?

Damn, that's a hard question. So I just gave Kassim my straight opinion.

"That's a good question. I think because he's taller than you, he's got a real good jab and he's naturally a middleweight or even super middleweight and you're naturally now 154."

Kassim was not overly impressed by my follow-the-herd analysis of Ouma vs. Taylor. But his pleasant, happy demeanor did not depart at the recognition of my lemming-like reasoning.

"I'm no natural nothing. I'm just a guy that comes in the ring to compete. I started out at 135, 140, 147, 154, now I'm at 160. On December 9th I'm coming up with something the whole world will get to know. Okay, you're underestimating me. I'm gonna work on this other man. And I be out of there. If you got a question for me, come down to Philly, I'm out!"

Kassim "The Dream" Ouma will challenge WBC/WBA/WBO Middleweight champion Jermain Taylor on HBO in Little Rock, Arkansas on December 9th.

Check out Scoop's site

Article posted on 22.11.2006

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